IntroductionFormer polarized political systems in the Latin

IntroductionFormer President Hugo Chávez Frías’s regime stands out as one of the most influential cases of the strategic use of political communication as a tool for legitimization of the past decades. His regime not only involved significant rearrangements in the control of political power in Venezuela, but it also shifted the way Venezuelans experienced and interacted with politics. His style unfolded incrementally between the first year of his presidential campaign until his death in 2013 after a long struggle with cancer. Given the presence of all formal requirements previously discussed in class for this event to be considered an spectacle (performer + spectator, sharing the same time and space, and with the possibility of interaction between one another) , in this paper I seek to analyze President Chavez’s address to the United Nations General Assembly potential characterization as a spectacle according to several authors. After presenting the socio-economic context of Chávez’s ascend to power, I will be analyzing the formal aspects of the speech. In the second part of the essay, several elements of his address and Chavismo politics as a whole will be examined through the concepts of spectacle previously seen in class.ContextLatin America has been long described as a latent hive for the rise of populist regimes and leaders. The appeal of populism in the region has to be understood with reference to past and present political dislocations, unmet social needs and heightened economic insecurities, which all have been continuously providing material for the articulation of political grievances. It is argued that decades of exclusionary policies led to the accumulation of dissatisfied groups looking for a chance to change their political system, until then believed to be completely hijacked by the elites. Whereas up until the 1980s decade Venezuela used to be considered one of the most stable regimes in Latin America, today the country is almost exclusively cited as one of the least stable and more polarized political systems in the Latin American region. Still, for many years Venezuela was a very popular and prosper destination. More especifically, until the 1970s decade thousands of immigrants from Europe and other countries in Latin America saw Venezuela as an ideal place to exile. Venezuela’s oil reserves have always been a major determinant of the reach of the country’s domestic political, economic and social transformations, and it catapulted Venezuela from the bottom to the top ranks of modernizing countries in Latin America during the second quarter of the 20th century. High oil prices allowed the country to keep a relatively stable currency and to achieve average growth rates for almost four decades, with the oil business counting for over 90% of export earnings and half of the government’s revenues.  However, the economic expansion only lasted until the middle of the 1980s, when the global collapse of oil prices severely damaged the economy. As a result of failed policies, corruption in government and a rise in poverty and crime, Venezuelans’ living standards fell dramatically. The rapid deterioration of Venezuela’s economic and political stability triggered mass popular protests in the country’s capital and a failed coup d’état in 1992 organized by then militant Hugo Chávez and his MBR-200 movement, which paved the way for radical change in Venezuela’s economic, political and institutional system.  Indeed, former President Hugo Chávez Frias himself was shaped within the ranks of the most disadvantaged sectors of the population, and his political project would be oriented towards changing what was considered a corrupted status quo. Hugo Chávez was elected president with the highest vote to date (56.2%) in 1998, only four years after his release from prison . Starting with a constitutional reform in 1999, he initiated the dismantling of the country’s institutions one by one, which were considered elitist, exclusionary, against the interest of the Venezuelan people and, above all, part of a imperialist strategy to control the South American region. Formal aspects of the speechIt is within this context that I seek to analyze the statement given by former President Hugo Chávez to the 12th Plenary Meeting of the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2006. The speech was entirely given in Spanish: the official translation can be taken from the Official Records of the UN Archive.  My analysis is based on the original intervention in Spanish, as subtleties can sometimes be lost in translation. The total length of the speech is 26 minutes, 12 seconds.  ContentIn his address, former President Hugo Chávez mainly criticizes U.S. President George Bush’s administration policies and talks about the need for UN reform. Chronologically, he starts off by displaying and recommending the book ‘Hegemony or Survival’, written by American philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky, to the audience and directly to the President of the 61st session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa. He proceeds to warn about the great threat that U.S.-led hegemonic and imperialist pretensions represent to the world, which put the survival of humankind at risk, referring to President Bush as ‘the Devil’ in several occasions. He goes on to criticize the insufficient and arbitrary development of the United Nations system itself due to the lack of power and impact of its resolutions, especially from the countries of the Third World, and further stresses the demands made by the representatives of several countries, including Venezuela, in previous years: the expansion of the Security Council in its permanent and non-permanent membership categories, the implementation of more effective and transparent methods of debate and conflict resolution, the suppression of the Security Council’s veto mechanism, and the strengthening of the role and functions of the United Nations Secretary General. Finally, he concludes on a positive note thanking various countries for their support to Venezuela against U.S. persecution and with an outright vision of new streams, ideologies and movements that revolve around the construction of a more equal world, free of U.S. and neoliberal hegemony and with respect for peace and the sovereignty of the nations.